Juba, South Sudan,
June 25, 2021 – The government of South Sudan has lost at least $4 billion to defiant oil companies operating in the country.
Dr. James Wani Igga (pictured), the Vice President for Economic Cluster says five hundred companies in the oil sector have accrued over $4 billion in tax evasion over the last ten years adding that the companies were under scrutiny for misappropriation of funds.
The list of the companies was not immediately availed to Nyamilepedia on request. However, Igga says the government was only able to assess 40 of them.
“We examined only 40 of them out of those 500. Most of them have never paid Personal Income Tax (PIT) since independence. We uncovered unpaid PIT amounting to $1.5 billion for 10 years. This is something that is supposed to go to the coffers of the Ministry of Finance,” Dr. Igga said adding that the money was exclusive of “the sum of $3.3 billion due to the country from the actual oil companies.”
Igga said South Sudanese citizens continue to languish in despair and poverty because of the misappropriation of oil funds.
“Why do you think South Sudan is suffering from the financial crisis? We produce 116,000 barrels per day, and the price of oil is currently more than 60 US dollars, and we should not suffer from the financial crisis because we have diverse sources of income,” the VP lamented.
Igga spoke at the launch of the resumption of oil production in Unity State’s Tharjiath oilfield on Monday after more than eight years of shutdown.
On environmental safety, the government also says oil companies have made little effort to properly manage the environments where they operate for the safety of their inhabitants.
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry has also threatened to expel defiant oil companies on this ground.
“Oil companies must cooperate in getting solutions into this environmental pollution and anybody who will not cooperate, as the government, we will not hesitate to stop you from the operation,” said Josephine Napwon Cosmas the Minister of Environment and Forestry.
Napwon accused oil companies of not paying attention to the negative impacts of oil-related environmental pollution in the area they operate.
Napwon said reports obtained by the ministry on environmental safety show that there has been massive pollution affecting communities and livestock in oil-producing areas and oil companies have neglected its impact.
She revealed that most of the victims of the oil-related pollution have been women, children, and livestock.
“I must assure you that environment is life, the environment is first, it is not the second option, or second priority but the environment must always be first,” she emphasized.
She was also speaking at the same event attended by Mr. Igga in Unity State last week (Monday) at the resumption of production in Block 5A.
“I don’t think you are the only company in the world which can do the oiling,” she dared.
Napwon also called on the companies to play the social corporate responsibility in areas of operation, an obligation that was ignored since South Sudan attained independence.
“It is shameful to see the host communities suffering without roads, water, good health, and good schools yet it is an oil-producing area,” she stressed.
Puot Kang Chol the Minister of petroleum said the resumption of Block 5A resumption means a lot to the government as well as the whole country.
“The resumption of this block means economic security not only to the government but as well to the communities in the facilities of oil-producing areas,” he stressed.
“But most importantly we need to ensure that our people in the area are safe from oil pollution and it must be taken seriously,” he added.
He also called on the companies to consider giving necessary basic needs to the oil-producing communities.
“I want partners from today and Sudd Petroleum Operating Company (SPOC) I have seen these we are using electricity here, in your next budget try to consider it that the kids in the area should be able to read using electricity, not candles,” he ordered.
Adding that “If you do not do that, if you leave from here nobody will remember you, but can you can be remembered by generation because those students will be the leaders of the Republic of South Sudan tomorrow.”
The Deputy Managing Director of the government-owned Nile Petroleum Corporation, Stanslaus Tombe noted that Block 5A resumption was “a new era in South Sudan” but cautioned SPOC on paying attention to the environment while exploiting the block.
According to an environmental report obtained by some researchers, the oil industry in South Sudan has left a landscape pocked with hundreds of open waste pits.
It further reveals that water and oil contaminated with toxic chemicals and heavy metals including mercury, manganese, and arsenic were getting disposed of in the open intoxicating the oxygen inhaled by inhabitants.